AI is touted as the next big thing in almost every industry. From agriculture to transport, there’s barely any industry that is yet to explore at least an aspect of artificial intelligence and how it can enhance it in some way. In the context of eCommerce specifically, the applications of AI go from bots and virtual assistants to its most widespread application — assisted product discovery. But what is product discovery and what role does AI play in simplifying it? Simply put, product discovery is the experience of easily finding the products you want to buy. This process of discovery is spread across search or navigation — where the shopper expresses the intent to look for and subsequently purchases a particular product or through recommendations — where the shopper is shown the right product suggestions that match who they are and what would appeal to their sensibilities. Traditionally, this mapping of products to phrases was a manual process. Online merchandisers are a lot like their retail counterparts, figuring out which products to promote, the display layout and sort order as well as planning and executing many seasonal and promotional campaigns. The advancement of AI has made this process a lot more scientific.
If your catalog is a maze, AI-assisted product discovery is like finding a map that makes it easier to manoeuver it.
Role of AI in Product DiscoveryTo the uninitiated, Daddy’s Car sounds a lot like any other song created by a pop band that’s had an overdose of the Beatles. The interesting bit is that the song, which has over 1.9 million views on YouTube, was composed using a system of machine learning algorithms called ‘Flow Machines’. *let the jaws drop* But after we’re done being amazed by what AI has made possible, it would be worthy to note that even in the case of Daddy’s Car, a human composer put together the melody created by the algorithm. Which brings us to a pertinent question — is AI, as it exists today, a creator or more of a collaborator? There was a time when Goodreads helped me find the kind of books I’d enjoy reading. That was before Amazon got this smart. Almost every time I make a purchase on Amazon, it shows me a set of books that I can’t resist looking at. And though we’ve had a few misses, I’ve enjoyed most of those reads. One of the pioneers of hyper personalization, Amazon has understood its shoppers over a period of time and now offers each one of them product discovery experiences that are unique to who they are. This personalization isn’t limited to just recommendations. Personalization is essential across search and navigation journeys as well. You wouldn’t walk into a store and expect to be greeted by one single store associate to herd the entire set of shoppers through the store. Why else would a static experience make sense in the online space?
The future of online commerce is hyper personalized and focuses squarely on delighting the customer.